The Justice Of Usa – Part 1
When Usa remembers the day when her parents told her she was only good at being pretty.
In their country, mages would train anyone found to have the skill in the Art of Anima. Anima is the energy of the universe. In mastering the act of manipulating it, one can change the world around, albeit temporarily. As her teacher said, “The universe does not like to forcefully change. Those who can convince the universe to change permanently are this nation’s greatest asset. They are the Supreme Masters of Anima.” In her dreams, this is what Usa wanted. She wanted to be a Supreme Master of Anima. She wanted people to see more than just the pretty face she born to. Her parents talked constantly of her beauty, boys would use words like “beautiful” and “gorgeous” in uncalled situations. When she accomplished, especially something she found difficult, Usa heard others say, “she’s beautiful and smart.” Never the latter before the former. Though Usa had a good grasp on her ability, she was not powerful enough to be a Supreme Master. But that didn’t stop her.
One day- the day Usa remembers so vividly- her parents sat her down. The village mage sat next to them, in the faded brown sofa with various stains, tears, and markings of a simple life. The mage said her talent for Anima was “quite impressive.” At this, Usa remembers smiling with joy and drinking the tea placed before her. She blushed and replied that she had an excellent teacher.
“A position has been found for you, Usa,” her father said with a smile, “one that will allow you to use your Anima.”
“Is it the position I requested with the builders?” While Usa could not manipulate the world permanently, she could still use her skills to build new things and brighten the town’s dreary browns and sad grays.
“No, it is better. It is a position with the royal groomers.”
“Groomers?” Usa’s smile fell from her face. “But I never applied to-”
“We changed your application.”
That was the day her dreams were shattered.
They didn’t care about what she could do. They care about what she could do for them. And, according to the village mage, the royal groomer’s job was to “look good and make others look good.”
“It’s a simple job,” her mother explained, “and comes with a high status among the-”
“I don’t want an easy job! I applied to the builders! I don’t want to stand around a drafty castle and use my magic so… so frivolously.” Usa sets down her tea with a little more force than necessary; tears burn in her eyes.
“The job of a royal groomer is not frivolous,” the mage remarked. “You should be honored to have this position!”
“Honored? I should be honored? I am insulted you would degrade what I can do. I wanted to make this town better and being stuck in a castle making people look good improves nothing.” Usa took a steady breath, releasing her anger. She walked to the front door and stopped. “I’m declining this position. Tell whoever it concerns that they can find someone else. I’m not good at grooming. I’m good at building.”
“Nonsense. No one like you should be good at building. We worked hard for you, Usa. We worked hard to give you a position that would raise your status. The only thing you should focus on is looks. Your looks and the looks of others. You’re only good at being pretty.”
Usa turned to look at her mother, disbelief at her word. “…you worked hard for me to just… sit around and look pretty? I can’t believe this.”
Now, the mage stood up. His mouth formed into a hard line. “This is an incredible opportunity, you should not turn this down. You turn this down, there will be no future for you. This is where you are told to go. You will go there- or else.”
“Or else what?”
Looking back, Usa wishes she hadn’t asked that.